For the last five months, a trial has been going on in Dresden against Lina E. and three co-defendants tried for attacks on neo-Nazis. The proofs remain shaky.
Solidarity with Lina E.: Thousands demonstrated last September in Leipzig against criminalization of antifascism Photo: M. Golejewski/AdoraPress
Maximilian A. strokes his beard, stares at the ceiling, answers only in half sentences. It was all so long ago, two years ago. No, he could not describe the attackers in more detail, not even the hammer used by one of the hooded men. And how he experienced the attack? "Well, was not pleasant."
Maximilian A. sits on Wednesday in the Dresden Higher Regional Court, in the trial against Lina E., it is trial day 28. He is called as a witness, a beefy 21-year-old, "two meters, pretty much", black hoodie, short-cropped hair. A construction worker and right-wing martial artist. Maximilian A. Reports two attacks on himself and fellow travelers in his hometown of Eisenach, in October and December 2019. Two attacks that Lina E. and assigned to their supposed group.
At the first one Maximilian A sat. in the Bull’s Eye, a scene pub in Eisenach, run by his friend Leon Ringl, a nationwide known neo-Nazi, also a martial artist. Around midnight, a dozen hooded men suddenly stormed into the pub, beating the handful of guests, reports A. "It all happened pretty quickly, under a minute." He himself had defended himself with a bar stool, thereby only a blow on the arm and pepper spray got off.
Was she the woman in Eisenach?
During the second attack, two months later, he and two friends were driving Ringl home from the Bull’s Eye when suddenly hooded men appeared again. Ringl should "cut the crap or we’ll kill him next time," an attacker is said to have threatened. One had taken refuge in a car, they had also been beaten there, with rods and a hammer. He took several blows, plus copious amounts of pepper spray, Maximilian A reported.
But the right-wing extremist can’t describe the hooded men in more detail. The only thing he wants to remember is that a woman was present both times. "Back" these had shouted during the attacks in each case. That a woman took part in such a robbery had "surprised" him. And the long, dark hair that peeked out of her hood, as he said to the police? "I can’t remember."
It takes a whole day to question Maximilian A. on Wednesday, the next day it continues. However, it does not become more exact also at the end. Lina E. Follows the testimony attentively, sometimes leaning back, sometimes reading along in files. Was she the woman in Eisenach? The testimony of Maximilian A. it will not clarify. And so it has been going on for a long time in these proceedings.
Six serious assaults
The trial against Lina E has been going on since September., The student has been in custody for 14 months. Three men from Leipzig and Berlin are co-defendants, but they are still at large. The federal prosecutor’s office made the accusations: the quartet allegedly formed a criminal left-wing extremist group with others to assault right-wing extremists – with Lina E. as leader. Six serious assaults they are accused of. It’s the toughest indictment of leftists in a long time, which the scene counters with one of the biggest solidarity campaigns in a long time. "Free Lina", is the slogan on many demonstrations and house walls.
The evidence is unclear: were the defendants involved in all the assaults? Were they a solid group? And was Lina E. Their leader?
The court meanwhile tried all six assaults, committed between August 2018 and February 2020: on Leipzig ex-NPD man Enrico Bohm, Wurzen neo-Nazi Cedric S., to a group of right-wing extremists in Wurzen, to a canal worker in Leipzig-Connewitz who wore a cap with an extreme right-wing emblem. And since this week there is also talk about the attack on the Eisenach right-wing extremists.
The defendants were all silent
All those attacked reported bruises, lacerations or broken bones, in one case metal plates had to be inserted in the face afterwards. But the evidence remains unclear even since her statements. Were the four defendants really involved in the alleged assaults? Were they really a fixed group? And was Lina E. their leader?
The accused are all silent on the matter. That’s why now circumstantial evidence is discussed in detail, every witness is questioned meticulously. This week Leon Ringl should testify, the Eisenach pub owner. He is the only witness so far who stated in police interrogations that during the attacks in Eisenach Lina E. to have recognized directly – on the basis of the voice, the stature, the movements. Can this be? This also remains unexplained for the time being: Ringl cancelled at short notice – he had a slipped disc. So this process is delayed again.
Lina E. does not let on in the courtroom, smiling and waving to her mother and friends who are always among the audience. The witnesses so far don’t have to worry the 26-year-old either. The attacked canal worker could not describe the hooded assailants. A work colleague also not the "girl" who had been with them. The Wurzen neo-Nazi group, which had just returned from a march in Dresden, was also unable to identify the attackers.
VW Golf with stolen license plates
Enrico Bohm from Leipzig even stated that he had "perceived the hooded men as male". A woman he "would not have expected such an assault". And the Wurzener Cedric S. explained that during the attack on him, a petite woman had been present, who had called him a "Nazi pig". However, even he could not describe them in more detail – and at the police S. never mentioned a woman before.
taz at the weekend
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Clear, however, is: After the second attack in Eisenach, Lina E. was briefly arrested for the first time. Officers stopped her after the Eisenach attack in a getaway car, a VW Golf with stolen license plates, together with co-defendant Lennart A. It was her mother’s car. The day before, she had also been caught stealing two hammers from a hardware store in Leipzig.
And the Federal Prosecutor’s Office cites further circumstantial evidence. A fake ID from Lina E. from their home. A multitude of cell phones, wigs and glasses, with which she had repeatedly concealed her identity. your fiance Johann G., who has been in hiding for a year and a half, who has also taken part in attacks and from whom blood spatter is said to have been found in the Bull’s Eye. At the scene of Enrico Bohm was also found a DNA mixed trace on a bag that could be linked to Lina E. could fit. However, experts heard in the trial disagreed about the significance of the DNA, the defense considers it not usable. In addition, it was unclear what the bag had to do with the attack.
The woman was "stronger
The An-wal-t:innen do not only doubt this circumstantial evidence. Found photos at Lina E. from the soccer field where Cedric S. trained? Open who made these. Video recordings of Lina E. from a regional train before the attack on the neo-Nazis in Wurzen? Not clear if these really show the accused. An intercepted conversation from a car in which Johann G. says about the attack on the canal worker, "that was us"? The sentence is ambiguous, the "we" could also have meant "the Connewitzers". In addition, the recording may not be used because it originates from another procedure.
And anyway: Who says that it’s always Lina E. Was as soon as a woman is said to have been at a crime scene? In fact, approximately after the attack on Cedric S, LKA investigators found. female DNA on his hooded sweatshirt. According to his statements the DNA can only come from the attack – but it does not match Lina E. Also in the attack on Enrico Bohm two witnesses described a woman, but it does not fit Lina E. Likewise with the Bull’s Eye, where according to operator Ringl a woman is to have spied out the restaurant before, which was however "stronger". "The Federal Prosecutor’s Office simply assumes that it was always Lina E. was involved in the attacks," criticizes Ulrich von Klinggraff, defender of Lina E. "But this has not been proven anywhere so far."
It has not yet been clarified in the trial how exactly the group around Lina E. should have looked. Was there a fixed group at all?? The prosecution sees as evidence a letter to a co-defendant in which an acquaintance complains about the isolation of his group. The defense, however, considers this letter to be legally unusable – and sees the alleged group as a construct for which several bodily injuries were simply combined.
The Federal Court of Justice referred to a risk of absconding
In any case, the Federal Prosecutor’s Office investigated five other persons whom it attributed to the group. Except for Johann G. But in the end it handed over the proceedings to the public prosecutor’s office in Gera – because there was no longer any special significance to these cases. Investigations are nevertheless continuing: only on Wednesday, shortly before the start of the trial, raids were carried out in Leipzig against two left-wingers, who are accused of having attacked Johann G. had helped her to go underground. They are said to have deposited personal items for him in a box in a Connewitz attic.
Judge Hans Schluter-Staats extended the trial dates until the end of June in the meantime because of the tough evidence hearings. That Lina E. and the three co-defendants are convicted in the end, however, is not excluded. In the case of the 26-year-old, who has no criminal record, this is likely at least for the stolen hammers and the Eisenach attack, in which she was caught in the getaway car. And possibly also for other acts – then, if the court does not consider the circumstantial evidence in detail strong enough, but all of them taken together already. The judges have so far not indicated that they completely doubt the prosecution’s case.
Defense attorney Ulrich von Klinggraff, on the other hand, emphasizes: "From my point of view, not a single count of the indictment is sufficient for a conviction." A solidarity alliance for the accused also speaks of a "politically motivated, unfair trial," Lina E.s long detention in custody was a "prejudicial punishment". The Federal Court of Justice, on the other hand, referred to a risk of flight and a possible heavy sentence for Lina E., since she had been involved according to charge – differently than the co-defendants – in all acts.